When you have a disability or chronic illness, sometimes the idea of having a child can be overwhelming and even feel impossible. For those of us who are able, but struggle to feel prepared, Jackie Waters has compiled a some ideas to help ease the transition into parenthood.

When your baby arrives, life will change completely.  It’s a daunting proposition, and if you have a disability, there are special challenges you face.  I found some great advice for meeting some of those challenges.

Home modifications.  Depending on your situation, you may need to make some home modifications before your baby arrives.  For instance, Family Handyman suggests you may benefit from wider doorways.  If you use a wheelchair or walker or are otherwise mobility-impaired, a little more elbow room can go a long way.  If reframing doors isn’t a viable option, consider installing offset hinges instead.  It’s an easy, inexpensive way to add a few inches of space, which will be much appreciated when you’re maneuvering with a baby, groceries, and other miscellaneous items.

Another great idea is to install a ramp.  Getting in and out of your home while navigating steps can be troublesome, especially if you throw a stroller into the mix.  You should check local building regulations before work begins, and Fantastic Handyman suggests adding a sturdy hand railing when installing your ramp.

Take a good look at your flooring before your baby arrives, too.  Smooth flooring that is easy to manage is ideal, such as hardwood, laminate, or vinyl.  The latter two choices are also water-resistant, which can really be a boon with a baby.  You should also remove area rugs and plush carpeting since they can be tripping hazards.

How is your home arranged?  If some rooms are currently difficult to navigate, it’ll be even more important to improve accessibility before your baby arrives.  Consider moving things you use on a daily basis to places that are easy to reach, and group similar items together for logical access.  You’ll be surprised at how important your convenience becomes when your baby is colicky or you’re exhausted from 2 a.m. feedings.

Baby equipment.  There are plenty of clever equipment options to help make your parenting journey easier.  For instance, a chest harness for carrying your baby can be useful for times you need your hands free.  Similarly, a simple baby sling can allow you use of your hands while carrying your little one.  Bibs with hook-and-loop closure are a big help so you don’t need to operate snaps or buttons.

Some items may need alterations to help you manage more easily.  A cot that opens from the side is helpful to those needing access from a seated position. If you can’t find one already designed that way, it’s reasonably simple to modify one, and instructions to alter a cot are available online.  Along those same lines, bathing your infant can be challenging if you need to remain seated, but with a baby bathtub and computer table you can create an accessible tub.

If you find you’re struggling with finding equipment or making modifications, one idea is to connect with an occupational therapist.  Occupational therapists are specially trained to help people with disabilities by teaching them to do something in a different manner or by improving the functionality of the environment.

Self-care.  Parenthood is an exciting but stressful journey for anyone, and it’s important to make self-care part of your lifestyle.  Good self-care is different for each of us, so you’ll want to look at your routine and decide what will be meaningful for you.  Doing some physical activity to keep you more fit can be helpful, or you may need to ensure you take time out for lunch with friends.  Part of your self-care program may simply include reading a good book.  Whatever makes you feel good, keeps you in a positive frame of mind, and promotes your well-being is a great choice.

You’ll be great!  Parenthood is an awe-inspiring proposition for anyone.  If you have a disability, you face unique challenges.  However, with some thoughtful preparations, you can meet those challenges head-on and be a huge success!